Ultimatums are absurd,
like “I will not write one more word
until those reading clap and say,
‘Bravo!’ and ‘Watch the genius play!'”
The Sufis had it right, I think:
“Don’t name wells from which you won’t drink”;
and yet, to stand aloof and proud
from rabble, sometimes, is allowed
When lines of poesy and wit
Are cast aside, in praise of shit
the gauntlet’s thrown, the challenge made.
Now, let mere pundits be afraid!
The bards of old were greatly feared,
but their kind have all disappeared
and in their place are only found
experiments in time and sound
The erudite, vanity press?
Who reads that stuff, and more or less
who gives a damn for words these days
that speak the truth, when lies are praised?
The torture of the gentle soul
who speaks against such mind control
and casts their nets for bigger fish
and writes exactly as they wish
Is to live in a dull gray place
Where art is schlock and soon defaced
Where schools are meant to churn out rows
of mindless robots too well-clothed
And Music? Who can bear the tune
That blares out Sunday afternoon
Lambasting resting ears with tripe,
vulgarity and guttersnipe
Too loud, the world seeks truth in vain
for it hides behind windowpanes
a throbbing headache from the noise.
It waits for men, and finds, just boys
Who dabble with a word or two
But think of drink and fight and screw
Without the faintest sense of shame
That they know not their father’s names
And yet, this sad, misgotten lot
Who claim a God that knows them not
Will look at me with great distain
As I stand out and smell the rain
Oh, wash this street, and filthy town
destroy its streets, and bear them down
along the river to the sea;
It cannot come too soon for me!
And ultimatums? I refuse
to leave this place, to cede, or lose
until my words, like slow, cruel time
sink in and waken just one mind.
21 JUN 2004